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RPG Maker MV

Score: 95%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Steam
Developer: Kadokawa Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Editor/ RPG/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

If you wanted to take a vacation and go to an amazing place, most people would think that the simple approach to doing just that would be: (1) Get a vehicle to take you there and then (2) Go there. Sounds simple enough. However, if you decide that the easiest vehicle to drive is probably a train (because, hey... forward, backward and speed control, right?) and you don't do any research, but just buy a train... and then, only later, do you realize that the train has to have tracks to go wherever you want it to go, then you might not have such a good time. Of course the other problem, here, is that nothing up to this point has said where you're actually trying to go... and if you decide you're hoping to drive your train to a tropical island, it might be a bad time, indeed.

Farcical metaphor aside, RPG Maker MV is a pretty powerful piece of locomotion, with a lot of nice features and a great deal of flexibility, but if you want to use it to create the next great RPG, you're going to need more than just this software; you'll need a story to tell and a pretty good idea of how you want to tell it.

The graphics assets that come with the software are a bit of a mixed bag; they are high quality, but cartoonish in nature (as fits the "classic RPG genre"). However, they are also very, um, strange in their style, with large demon or god characters made of random assortments of body parts thrown together it grotesque manners, zombies in a strange pose holding large forks and skeletons that appear to be... well... dancing. Some of the other creatures and most of the NPCs are pretty usable, but if you really want to make a RPG that's truly yours, you would want to provide your own graphics assets. RPG Maker MV makes this easy; simply create an image, save it off as a PNG file (with a transparent background) and drop it in the correct folder, then select it inside the software. Easy.

The graphics used for creating maps are great, providing a way to very quickly create a map that has that old school RPG look and feel, complete with automatic shadows from the walls, certain tiles that are animated (such as water tiles) and everything you need to populate your land maps with a variety of terrains, buildings and plants. You've got shallow water, deep water, light grass, dark grass, multiple types of mountains and trees ranging from barren to green to fruiting.

The sound effects are pretty good and there are several different pieces of music, ranging from tunes intended to be theme music to battle music, ship music, or music for castles or dungeons - 18 different scores in all. These songs can easily be set as background music for given maps, providing a score to adventure to as you travel across the map or giving a certain feel to a town, castle or dungeon. In addition to playing them "normally," you can also adjust the song's speed (and pitch) up to 150% or down to 50% of normal. With pieces of music, doing so can give a completely different feel, changing music that might be quite suitable for sailing on a ship to something that works well with crossing an arid desert, perhaps. In addition to the musical scores, you can easily add in a Background sound loop to add in ambient sounds, such as echoing drips in an underground cavern or dungeon. These sound loops can be assigned at the map level, adding a touch of context to reinforce the environment and make it a bit more believable.


Hmmm. Okay, "Gameplay." Well, RPG Maker MV isn't a game, but software to make games. Given that, the real question here is how one goes about using it and how much of the "heavy lifting" is handled by the software. I am happy to report that there are a lot of useful features in RPG Maker MV that all work together to help you create your game and you can test out your game with the simple click of a button, which will launch your game in a window on your PC.

You'll need a world to walk around in, which is easily created using the Map Tool. This same tool will allow you to place buildings to visit, create indoor maps to represent those buildings and quickly add in "Transfer" events to allow characters to actually "enter" the building, either by simply walking on the area of the door (for example), or by walking up to the door and hitting the Action button. If you want to add a labyrinth or dungeon, you can create a map of the desired size and then use the option to generate a dungeon on that new map and choose either Maze or Rooms. Try out the different settings to get a feel for what to expect, but remember that you can always go back and make modifications to the map after the initial generation. You'll want to, anyway, since the generator doesn't add any details, such as doors, cracks, pools, or treasures. All it does is creates the crazy pathing (for mazes) or the connected rooms to serve as the basis for your dungeon. However, that gets you from zero to adding in custom details in no time at all.

When you think of RPGs, you think of encountering enemies, and while that's not strictly incorrect, there's another step involved in RPG Maker MV: Troops. Troops are collections of enemies that make up an Encounter. You may set up an encounter where our heroes will face three rats... or two skeletons or perhaps three rats AND two skeletons. At any rate, choose some grouping of enemies and throw them together and you can create a Troop out of them. In addition to the specific enemies, you can specify the background that will be seen during the encounter and you'll also have the ability to add custom events to that Troop. Perhaps you have some undead being controlled by a Necromancer? You could add dialogue as he tells you how you are doomed to die and be pressed into his service, or he could just as easily be made to try to convince you that they're going moor to moor selling ghoul-scout cookies. The dialogue could merely occur before the fight begins, provide banter as the fight goes on, include options to avoid the fight completely or, if you're really enterprising, allow you to convince one of the undead enemies to join your party. To a very real extent, your major limitation is your imagination and creative ability.

If you are a fan of random encounters, you can take your newly explained Troops and simply add them to the list of random encounters on a given map and specify their frequency. Make sure you've got random encounters turned on for that map and then just go test the map. Walk around and sooner or later, "Blammo!" you've just been randomly encountered.


So, the first thing most people would think about when it comes to RPGs is, of course, quests. There is not a specific tool to build a quest, which might sound strange and be a bit difficult to wrap one's mind around at first, but if you think about a quest not as a single thing, but as a series of individual checklist items, you'll have a better understanding of how to build a "quest" in RPG Maker MV. Every event can have different actions based on the criteria of your choosing. So, the first time you meet the king, he may present you with certain dialogue and then offer you a quest. Until you accept the quest, he may always offer you the quest when you try to talk to him. If you talk to him after accepting the quest, but before you have secured the item he needs or completed the event (and set some variable behind the scenes), you might throw in some dialogue where he says how important and urgent the task is. When you complete the task and talk to him again, you could have him thank you for your service and present you with some reward. All together, these events make up a relatively rich quest, with contextual dialogue.. and you could take it in other directions, if you like. Perhaps one quest has you taking something from one place to another and your quest ends when you make the delivery and the person who accepts the delivery gives you the quest's reward, so you don't even have to return to the NPC that gave you the quest. Or, perhaps the king is more demanding and less forgiving, warning you not to show up in his presence without completing the task... if you return before completing the task, maybe his guards attack you. The story is up to you; you simply have to decide how you want things to play out and how characters should interact in the different states of a quest (before it's given, if it's refused, after acceptance but before completion, after success or, perhaps, after unrecoverable failure... maybe even after a certain amount of time)... and then create the event pages that orchestrate these actions based on the conditions that should trigger them.

Figuring out how best to use the various built-in actions that can be used in the Events system can be daunting, but not because it's difficult to use any one action, in particular, but because there's the possibility that initial unfamiliarity with what's available might make you miss out on using something that would really make your game better. The best way to avoid falling prey to this is to really dig in to the three pages of actions available when making an event and get to know each one and how they work. By getting familiar with these tools, you will know just what to reach for to get the effect you want to achieve.

The most difficult part of making a good game with RPG Maker MV is probably the challenge of making a balanced game... and this affects the actual difficulty of the game you make. There are default leveling curves and the ability to tweak these curves as you see fit, but it can be difficult to figure out how much damage a weapon should be able to inflict or how much health an enemy should have, etc. Set these wrong and you can end up with enemies that are way too weak or too powerful, and rewards that are way too good or not worth the time and effort... you don't want your players to easily become all-powerful, nor do you want to end up with a game that requires players to grind away killing hordes of rats to level up before they can hope to complete a quest. This, however, is a fairly accurate portrayal of the difficulties of making a good game, so I guess that's to be expected.

In addition to familiarizing yourself with all of the tools in RPG Maker MV, I would advise making a few "scratch sheet" or "throwaway" RPGs using the software, so you can try out all of the different features without having to first determine good reasons to have them in your game. With luck, these "sketches" will at least provide you with some good ideas to work into your real game when you start on one that you want to actually share with people.

The more in-depth things that you can do, such as adding videos and writing custom scripts, may take some conversions or scripting knowledge and can be a bit more involved than simply choosing a file, adjusting a number or typing in some text, but they don't provide an overly tall hurdle; they merely take a little bit of doing. The use of Javascript make the scripting side of things widely accessible and file conversions and image editing can be done with free software, such as VLC and Paint.net.

I've seen some comments saying that the process of publishing to Android and iPhone/iPad is lacking, requiring a step (that's not included) to pack the files for release on those systems. What is provided is just the ability to put everything into a folder as an HTML5 website. Additionally, there is nothing built in to remove the unused files, so all of the assets get copied over into the final release unless you go through and cull them out individually... and if you remove something that your game actually needs, then it will crash when the game tries to access a file that's not included. So, you have to either deal with a larger set of files than you need or you have to carefully remove the extra, unused files. For now. Mind you, someone could write something that would look at the game files and remove the assets that aren't used (referenced) in the files. This hasn't been done yet, to my knowledge, but with the active community support, I imagine it's only a matter of time.

Game Mechanics:

The true appeal of RPG Maker MV would have to be the flexibility. While you can assign Background Music and Background Sound loops to a map and be done with it, you can also set up events to fade them out, stop them or change what they're playing, if you like. There are quick set-up events and event features that allow you to create an Inn or a Store with minimal effort, but you can also add in conditional dialogue based on inventory or switches or variables used to keep track of anything from the weather, to the time, to whether some quest had been completed and cue sounds, as well, if you like. Want to record dialogue and breathe life into your game with actual voice acting? It would be a lot of recording, but it shouldn't take much to make the game use the sound clips. You can also play movie files, allowing for cut scenes or intro screens or, perhaps, a final movie at the end? Again, you'd have to provide the content, but the game is ready to handle it.

For that matter, scripting in the game is done using Javascript, which makes it accessible to a very wide base of programmers and web developers. But, if you don't have any clue how to write Javascript, you can still enjoy the multitude of free scripts that are provided by a very active and supportive community. There are multiple websites with scripts for tweaking RPG Maker MV in various ways and some of them even have forums where users can make requests of scripts they'd like to see.

Even without the additional free scripts (which look like they keep being added to), what's available "out of the box" provides a deep wealth of variety for creating interesting classic RPGs. You're not going to see plug-ins to make this a 3D First Person Shooter, but I've already seen a script to add in the ability to "jump." A variant on that could allow side-scrollers with the same engine.

Publishing your game to a smart phone could be easier, but I would expect that to come in due time, based on user community support. If you're looking to make an RPG and you have big ideas and the willingness to put in the time to create the world that you want to share with others, then I highly recommend RPG Maker MV.

If you're serious about making a "classic" style RPG, RPG Maker MV would be a great step in the right direction. Bring your art, music and storytelling skills with you and get to work, already...

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 7/8/8.1/10 (32bit/64bit) or Mac OS X 10.10 or better, Intel Core2 Duo or better CPU, 2GB RAM, 2GB Available Hard Drive Space (for the install, additional for your game projects), OpenGLR Compatible Graphics adapter, 1280x768 or better resolution

Test System:

[Alienware Aurora] Intel Core i7-3820 CPU @ 3.60GHz, 16 GB dual-channel DDR3, Alienware Mainboard, Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit, Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (4GB), Two Monitors (Samsung S22C300 21.5" / Gateway HD2201 21'' HDMI), 500 GB Solid State Primary Hard Drive, 1000 GB Secondary Hard Drive, Logitech Logitech G402 Hyperion Fury, Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, Astro Gaming A30 Headset Black Gaming Headset, Uverse Broadband Internet Access

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